A few days in Germany

If I look back at things I realise I probably should have played more in Germany over the years than I did. There was no particular reason why I didn’t. I mean Rory was HUGE there, so obviously there was a market for that type of power blues. I suppose the truth of the matter is I was busy playing everywhere on the European mainland at that time, so I had to divide my time and I was just happy to be playing anywhere!

 I’ve always enjoyed playing in Germany. The promoters take their responsibilities seriously and the audiences take their music seriously. They watch you closely when you play and what’s very rewarding – they’ll give you a wee clap if you do a good solo or something special on stage. They’re engaged in the show too!

This was a short trip, just to tell a few people about “Beyond The Tears” – and to meet up with my new booking agent over there. For me it’s always important to see who I’m working with face-to-face. You get more a feel for the person that way.

The first show was in Singwitz, which is all the way over there on the Czech border. That meant an overnight drive, which as you probably know by now I quite enjoy. Arrangements had been made with the hotel that we could get our rooms early so we had the whole day to sleep and chill out. Singwitz looked like a nice old-styled German town but I opted to rest myself for the show rather than take a look at the town (as Arnold said – “I’ll be back!”).

We had to be at the club at 5pm for the soundcheck (and we were). I must say the guys got quite quiet when we drove up and saw the club for the first time. It looked like an abandoned building, complete with broken windows and all. However, when we drove round the other side of the building it looked a bit better. It is indeed an old building that has been converted into a very nice music club. Gerry was talking to the owner after the gig and he explained that it had been a sort of depot for gunpowder or something like that in the old communist days. I must get the full story off Gerry. That might help explain the exterior!!

Andreas, who runs the club was waiting for us and I heard afterwards from Petra (the booking agent) that he was impressed that we were on time. I’m ALWAYS on time, so it was no biggie but nice to get credit for it all the same. I’ve always felt that you should turn up on time for a gig, present yourself in the best light, etc. After all, if it’s the first time you’ve played there the promoter might not know a lot about you so it’s important to relax him and let him know everything’s going to be alright.

The soundcheck proceeded without any hitches (Andreas knew what to do too) and so we had a little time to chill in the dressing room. The food was spot on and everything was as it should be.

Showtime was 9.15pm and when they say 9.15 in Germany they mean 9.15! No problem, as it’s actually quite nice playing early and finishing early. We were finished around the time we’d normally only be starting to play in other countries.

The gig went extremely well. You could tell that the audience was a little shy but I’d been expecting that so I gave them the whole set to get used to us. It was a real pleasure to play for them and I think they appreciated us travelling over to play for them. They have a lot of great artists playing there so they are well used to listening to good music. Andreas was well into Davy Spillane and played something off Davy’s albums right before we went on stage and immediately afterwards. Very enjoyable night!

The next day we had to head for Worms (about a seven hour drive). Unfortunately the gig had been postponed but it was on our way to the gig in Singen the day after and the promoter had arranged a hotel and dinner and everything for us. It was a nice sunny morning and so we loaded up the CD player with the appropriate sounds and headed on down the highway. However, things soon changed down the road apiece. We heard what sounded like a flat tyre and pulled over to the hard shoulder. We got out to have a look and were surprised to find no flat. So, what was up? I didn’t like the look of this. We decided to drive a wee bit on the hard shoulder to see if we could see anything. The van bounced up and down as we drove, so if it wasn’t a flat did that mean we had axil trouble, something like that. OK, we’re musicians not mechanics so we called the A.A. There was a nice high grassy knoll and we sat up there in the wind and sun waiting for the guy to arrive. He discovered pretty fast what the problem was. The tyre had sort of imploded (must have been dry or old). The spare appeared on the old side as well so he recommended that we check out a tyre place in the next village. We said our thanks and goodbyes and limped off to the next village. Upon arrival (around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon) everything appeared to be closed in this sleepy Germany village. Nico can speak a bit of Germany so he went off to see if he could get things sorted. In the end he stopped off in a bakery to ask them if they knew someplace. They did – and not only did they know the place, they knew the owner who they promptly called and asked him to get his butt over to the bakery. Sure enough, five minutes later the guy arrives and drives us out to this garage on the outskirts of town.

Unfortunately he only had one secondhand tyre but he fixed us up enough to make it to Worms. He was very friendly and helpful and while he was working on the van we marvelled at our good luck only to discover that most everyone in the band shared the opinion that if you have good karma around you you’ll get the help you need and that this was in fact just living proof of that.

This extra piece of excitement of course made the trip a good bit longer so we only arrived in Worms at 9pm that evening, by now it was raining and dark. To get into Worms you have to drive across this bridge and then through this amazing archway and our hotel was right in the centre of town, which had a beautiful church and old building on the town square.

The front door of the hotel was closed. We rang the bell several times but to no avail. There was a small bar beside the hotel so of course we went in there to ask if they knew anything about the hotel.

Their reply: the hotel is next door.

Our reply: yes, we know but the door is closed and no one answers the bell.

Their reply: nothing!

OK, so we go back outside only to be followed by a guy who’s obviously had a good few already. Hey, he has a key. Without a word he opens the front door and we all head upstairs to the reception area.

Now, I should mention here – the funny thing was we’d been talking about Fawlty Towers all day (and some of the boys doing bits from the various episodes) so you can see the connection that suddenly sprung to mind. We get up to the reception area and surprise, surprise – there’s no one there and no one answers the counter bell when we ring it. So while the guys were doing their best Basil and Sybil impersonations I looked over the counter and noticed Barry Mc Cabe written several times in the book. Thankfully it was an old style hotel with the room info in a book and not in a computer. I noted what rooms we had and sure enough the keys were there too (plus an envelope with my name on it – which was the dinner money from the promoter). This was getting weirder and funnier by the minute but ok, at least we had our rooms and we had the dinner money.

We found a lovely little restaurant and had a great meal (way too much for any of us to finish). At this stage most of us were quite tired and decided to go back to the hotel (even though there was music on in town). Back at Fawlty Towers  (as it had now been christened) they boys discovered the ‘night bar’ – a fridge were you could help yourself to the beer and just put the money in the basket on top of it (a half litre bottle for one Euro). Isn’t it great that this sort of trust still exists and as there was money in the basket already (and the guys also put theirs in it) obviously people don’t abuse it either!
I had one but that was enough for me and I headed off to bed (down a long hallway that was COMPLETELY decorated in Easter trimmings).

We met ‘Basil’ and ‘Cybil’ the next morning at breakfast – a very nice, friendly couple. Quite an experience – our stay in Worms. The gig is supposed to be re-scheduled for later in the year, so who knows we might find ourselves back here soon.

The drive to Singen – the next gig –  was only three hours so that was easy. The gig started early (7pm) and the nice thing was the club was celebrating it’s 15th birthday so everyone was in a party mood. The Exil is a nice wee venue (so Petra’s doing a good job) and it was a rockin’ gig! This ain’t working…

After the gig we stood around a bit talking to the people and then it was time to load up the van. Keys missing. Who has the keys? Gerry has the keys. Where’s Gerry? Nowhere to be seen. OK, to cut an hour down to 30 seconds – we finally worked out that Gerry had the keys when we went back to the hotel to eat, he’d changed his clothes over there and so if we could get a master key and get into his room we’d get the keys. We asked the club owner if he could call the hotel to explain all this. His response – the other fella (Gerry) had gone to the hotel to get the keys. OK, that cleared that up. Nico elected to go and get Gerry at the hotel. The two of them arrived later. Nico had found Gerry and Gerry had got lost. Explanations, apologies and just another day on the road! It’s amazing how much fun and excitement you can pack into a few days!!

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